In Which I Sing Sia’s “Chandelier” Into The Dictation Mode Of My iPad And Now I Am Dying
Patty girls don’t get hurt can’t feel anything when were a lot of push it down push a dog hey hey I’m the one for a good time call phones blowing up the ring in my doorbell feel the love Field hello 012-3123 drink 123123 drink 123123 drink throw them back to that I lose count hi swing from the chandelier Augmon say hi hi hi hi hi hi August swing from the chandelier the sand and sun is up mama less better get home now better run from this year comes the same here comes the saying 012-3123 drink 123123 drink 123123 drink come on back to the Lilo’s got out on a swing from the Sandalee the sun doesn’t exist like it doesn’t say hi hi hi hi hi hi mom this morning well I won’t give up on tonight you won’t look down won’t open my eyes keep my glass bowl until morning because I’m just holding onto tonight hold me I’m holding on for dear life won’t look down on open my eyes keep my glass will until morning lie because I’m just holding onto deny onto the night
I had a coworker once, another TV writer, who had a picture framed behind his desk. The picture consisted of two panels: one panel showed an open book with rose petals resting on the pages, and the other panel was an open book with rusted iron nails on the pages. That’s the difference between a good writing day and a bad writing day. I call bad writing days “Nails on the Page” days.
reading the fake-Stieg-Larsson book, The Girl in the Spider’s Web – the one Larsson never got to write, so they hired another guy to work off his outline – and i’m so fucking angry. not only is the voice off (which was to be expected, though hopefully minimized) – but it’s way off, and in a particularly annoying, patronizing way. Lisbeth Salander is all wrong – she’s already let one abusive guy walk (would never happen), she’s all… hollow inside – there’s no primal fury, no rage-fueled drive. the new male characters that are introduced are almost *painfully* performative in their masculinity – everything is a dick measuring contest. it’s been a while since i’ve been so angry at a book; i think because Lisbeth is one of my favorite literary characters, and they’ve just fucked her story all up. think i’ll be sticking to the original trilogy. how disappointing.
Octavia E. Butler
“So be it. See to it.”
been sitting here five minutes not knowing what to write. completely brain-dead. started barest of work on next project, organization only. can’t let myself enter that mindframe yet when THE NOVEL’s tone is so different. still, feels nice to have another outlet, another signpost on the road that says This Way Forward. i can get a certain tunnel vision when it comes to my work, sometimes to my detriment. it’s as if i’m afraid if i turn away even for an instant, all my hard work will crumble into dust – as if i’m keeping it alive through sheer force of ATTENTION. but then i try to remind myself, you have to be open to receiving at the same time you’re producing – after all, you need fuel for the creative fire keeping you warm through those cold dark nights of the soul. and whether you find that fuel in noodling around another idea, or watching a movie, or taking a walk (i’d avoid it; you have to go outdoors), i guess as long as you feel confident enough to be able to look away – even for an instant – that’s a good sign.
Another day at the novel-writing office…
I can’t believe it’s almost the end of January already. I feel like we just turned the corner into the new year.
Read a friend’s original pilot today, and was surprised to find myself wishing I were working on a screenplay right now. (Well, not entirely surprised, of course – at this point in THE NOVEL, I’d pretty much rather be writing anything else.) It’s been a while since I’ve felt that genuine hunger for the medium. I guess so many years in television, writing other people’s stories, in other people’s voices – trying to sell, trying to be bought – I miss a purely creative experiment in form. It’s been a long time since I actually got to write an original screenplay, but…
…oops. Now there I go almost telling you all my secret plans. Guess you’ll have to stick around through more of 2016.
i got nothin’ i got nothin’ i got nothin’
thinking about getting my next tattoos, looking around at fonts. want something in cursive, simple, but elegant. googled “elegant cursive font,” came across…
think this one is called “Coded Message From The Germans”
Breakfast with a lovely lady today.
Talked about art, writing, life.
Drank 4 gallons of inspiration.
Rocked the super hard yoga today.
Laid waste to my word count.
This statue is called “Triumphant” by John Currie
Dear My Writing,
HA! I beat your ASS today! See you tomorrow!
-Your Lord And Conquerer
Went to lunch with good friends this afternoon – friends who had run a half-marathon earlier in the day what the fuck and were headed off to see a show later are you fucking kidding me?
I took a shower.
Oh yeah. Feelin’ pretty good about myself.
Less gray today. Let’s hope it’s a change in the weather.
Have had the gray blahs the last couple days, like clouds the weatherman didn’t forecast, unexpected and gloomy.
Feeling a familiar weariness. Not bodily tired, not thoroughly exhausted, but an inevitable draining sensation, like a double portion of me is being poured out during the day to keep the engine chugging.
I keep working, though – I keep writing – and for this I’m grateful. I’ve gone through gray periods before where the work dries up – where the fog gets too thick to think through. Right now I’m holding the line in the ways I know how: getting sleep, working out, yoga, meditation, meds. Maybe I’m also just willing myself forward, but a lot can be said for will. For mind over mood. Sometimes discipline can be your backbone when your own goes gummy.
Hoping this will pass – maybe it was Bowie, maybe it was Rickman – maybe it was the 1-2 jab-cross. Maybe it’s too much info dump on Twitter (will Hollywood ever get #woke? ever ever? forever ever?). Maybe it’s paying too much attention to the news (I can’t even listen to Trump’s voice anymore; a clip from the GOP debate aired while I was on the treadmill this morning and I had to yank my earphones out; I couldn’t stand it). It doesn’t feel like Depression, capital D, but it’s a little more than wobbly.
Oh! What an excellent place to introduce my 100% Scientifically Accurate Mood Scale For Diagnosing Depression in Mere Smiths! The tiers are, in increasing order of severity:
I suppose if there’s any benefit to be accrued by having a recurring illness, it’s that after a while you know what to look for – what to feel for – and while it’s not Candyland Play Palace, it’s not Terra Incognita, either. I think that’s why I can make jokes about it – why I can keep working – even under the gloomy cover of the gray blahs. Because I’ve been here before, and emerged…
…every single time.
So I have faith. In myself. In my resilience.
Life is a collection of nested cycles. I’m learning how to mindfully follow the cycles rather than blindly fight against them.
So far so good.
Good writing day. Bout to watch…
…for the fifth time.
After five years, I’ve finally started blocking people on Twitter.
I know, I know, I’m super late to the party – but now that I’m here, I ain’t leaving ’til the music stops and the lights go on. I’mma shut this muthafucka DOWN, y’all. But if you’re wondering why it took me so long to get here…
I don’t mind dissenting opinions. In fact, I appreciate them, count on them, as they often help me clarify my own position or (sometimes – gasp!) even change my mind. I realize this is a strange concept vis-à-vis the Internet – lots of people like to stay in their comfy hidey-hole and never be challenged – and god knows I can still crawl in there myself, when the world’s insanity is so incredibly loud there’s no other way to turn it down (helllllo, Trump). But in general, differing opinions never threatened me much – I guess because I was such an opinionated bitch to begin with. (Or at least, that’s what Hollywood has been telling me ever since I got here. Luckily, fuck them.) I think that’s what delayed my arrival to the Block Party – somehow I’d decided people spouting rando shit at me on Twitter was just the price I paid for not living in an echo chamber.
But it’s a brand new year, with brand new decisions to make, and here’s the latest:
I am no longer willing to expend my emotional labor in edifying, pacifying, or engaging people whose sole purpose, it seems, is pointless shit-stirring. I don’t know what kind of college you go to for that, but let me tell you, some of the folks I’ve dealt with must have fucking master’s degrees in Shit Physics.
To return to the party metaphor, I never realized how much time I spent simply enduring the boor in the corner, allowing him to monopolize my time, preventing me from talking to my friends, from discovering new ideas – simply because I was too busy trying to convince the boor that, hey, maybe you could try, I don’t know, not being a boor? Wouldn’t that be great?
But now, my shrink would be thrilled to know that I have finally reached the realization that Boors gonna boor – and it’s not my responsibility to transform them into thoughtful, productive human beings. Nor should I feel bad for drawing a No Boors Allowed circle around myself. I can still take in and debate dissenting opinion – but what I don’t have to do is sit there and let a boor yap at me when he actually (🙄) has nothing substantive to say. From now on, I’m not gonna walk away from him – I’m gonna boot his ass out of the party.
I’ve blocked three people so far this year.
And I’ve still got my dancing shoes on.
quite a lovely Saturday. very low-key. lots of crosswords and Twitter.
J. just made dinner, dirty cheesy eggs and bacon – delicious, despite the inevitable bacon cancer. he whipped it together in the new pan my mom got us for Christmas (she will never give up the hope that some day, one day, one far-flung distant day, i will actually develop a shit about cooking). i love that he makes me dinner.
though maybe he just doesn’t want to starve. i have to concede the possibility.
got a really pretty one today.
when i die, bury me under my thousand half-filled notebooks.
1/6/16 – only time we’ll get to do that all year
yesterday’s entry kind of freaked me out ’cause i spent time doing the THING – the writing THING. the editing thing, the make-a-pretty-thing THING. too much thinking, not enough writing loose. maybe ’cause the rest of the writing day was crappy, i wanted to control and mold at least one THING – but this blog is not that.
i have to remind myself: this is not that.
so downshifting into disjointed life bites…
i’ve been playing this game called “Prune” on my iPad (someday soon i’m going to write an entire entry extolling the beauty of my new fucking gorgeous iPad Pro, a Christmas gift – but i still have loads more things i want to try on it first). i read an article about Prune somewhere online; they said it was low-pressure and kind of meditative, which are two things i figure i could probably use more of, so i shelled out the three bucks to our Corporate Apple Overlords and started playing.
the music’s very soothing – kind of Ambient Zen Garden, if you can hear it – and the game itself is calming, too: after all, you’re pruning trees. that’s it. that’s the game. pruning trees. sure, there are obstacles to get around, but there’s no running or jumping or shooting or accumulation of wealth or points.
i’m liking it a lot.
i think my favorite feature of the game, though, is the ability to take a screenshot after you’ve completed a level – as sometimes your tree’s winding growth can be quite beautiful.
here’s a tree from tonight.
Tough writing day.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the new medium: THE NOVEL
(It feels like you should say it like that, in big bold capital letters: THE NOVEL. Or maybe it’s only bold the first time you write one. Maybe the second one gets italicized, the third one… ironic quote marks? Maybe you don’t even care with the fourth one, you just tell everyone you’re writing an article for Rolling Stone. In any case, I’m still on my first one, so it’s really big bold capital letters.)
I cut my professional writer’s teeth on screenplays (which autocorrect just wanted to turn into “screw plays,” proving that autocorrect is already well familiar with the Hollywood process) – and a script maxes out at about 60 pages for a TV show. A feature can run to 120 – but that’s only if the dialogue runs super fast and you’re planning to cut 30 pages.
And all the white space, good lord! A script is more white space than writing – how I long for the halcyon days of telling a story through a 60 page haiku. Now my eyes are positively stuffed with black lines, dark word caterpillars crawling across my vision – rows and rows and rows of unending text stretching forward, stretching backward, page numbers irrelevant at this point.
The medium may have changed, but the feeling is familiar. It’s one I think everybody experiences from time to time, that cresting panic of “what the hell am I doing?’, of “this is too big,” “I got in over my head,” “they’re all gonna find out you’re a huge fraud and turn on you like Carrie in the shower scene, pelting you with tampons as you cry and bleed all over yourself!”
(Okay, last one’s probably just me, but I saw the movie at a formative age.)
Ironic, then, that the silver lining of that panic is its familiarity.
I don’t think I’ve ever written a script where I wasn’t seized at some critical moment by the absolute certainty that I would not be able to finish it. That I was destined to disappoint anyone who had ever counted on me creatively – and (worse), I would disappoint myself.
At first this panic was paralyzing – I pulled all-nighters, trying to make up for the fact that I could only type a half-page before I had to bolt out of my chair and pace and smoke and convince myself to sit back down to type another half-page. And remember – this is a half-page of haiku. When I first started out, my pace was nothing short of glacial – and frankly, it’s only marginally faster now.
But a couple scripts in, I cobbled together a kind of mantra that kept my ass in the chair longer and longer, that eventually allowed me to give up the smokes, to where now I can do all of my panicking-and-recovering directly at my desk. And now I tell myself this same mantra about THE NOVEL.
“You’ve felt this before. You’ve gotten through it. You’ve finished pieces in the past. You may not know exactly what you’re doing right now, but if you keep showing up and keep showing up, eventually you are just going to wear this motherfucker down.
“OUTLAST THIS BITCH.”
I’m watching the new Sherlock again (The Abominable Bride) – and I realized Steven Moffat doing feminism is kind of like a cat bringing you a dead mouse. Like, you know it’s supposed to be a gift, thanks for thinking of me, but in reality it’s just messy and kinda gross to look at?
I’ve been ruminating on this here daily blogging, and already on the third day I’ve figured out that one of the true appeals of the experiment for me – oddly enough – is knowing that in all likelihood this entry is being read by next to zero people. I call this “odd” because most of the writing I’ve done online, I’ve felt a lot of pressure to get out there with the cybermegaphone and shill the shit out of it. (Also I know that no one uses the word “cyber” any more, but “cybermegaphone” makes autocorrect have kittens, and that’s always fun.)
Self-promotion doesn’t come easy for me – in fact, that may be the most under- of understatements I’ve ever written. As Amanda Palmer points out in her book, The Art of Asking, everyone wants to be seen, in an existential sense, but not everyone wants to be looked at. That’s me. And it’s weird and contradictory, because apparently I don’t mind everyone reading my innermost thoughts – but yelling, “HEY LOOK AT MY INNERMOST THOUGHTS!” makes me feel gross, grosser, grossest.
However, when you self-publish, like I have in the past, that sort of floggage has to come with the territory. You’ve got no publishing house boosterism, no PR flack – it’s just you and your cybermegaphone, screaming “Look at meeeee!” through gritted teeth and bone-rattling fear (with just a soupçon of nausea). And sometimes it’s not even cyber-, and sometimes you don’t even get a megaphone. If you’d told me a few years ago that I’d be at the Los Angeles Book Fair, chatting up strangers and hawking my literary wares, I would’ve laughed. And cried. Probably mostly cried. Honestly, when I think about doing it again, it still mostly makes me want to cry. But I think I may be ovulating, too.
Anyhow, it’s a strangely pleasant respite to be writing for a potential audience that may or may not exist (which I guess applies to most writers’ audiences, WHY YOU ACTING LIKE YOU SPECIAL, MERE?), but even more wonderful is the relief of not having to “sell it, baby.” Hollywood normalizes this commodification to the point where you feel like writing is only half your job – the other half is the “business” part they never fucking let you forget in “show business”.
Here’s what I would ask of you, Dear Possibly Nonexistent Reader, if you are indeed reading this with Actually Existent Eyeballs:
Don’t tell me you’re here.
Let’s keep this a secret between you and you.
I don’t mean to sound ungrateful – of course I like it when people read my stuff, and I like it even more when they enjoy it – but I have a feeling this experiment is only going to work if I don’t feel a lot of outside pressure about it, hence my decision not to shill. Please feel free to read to your heart’s content – I promise I’ll enjoy it somehow – psychically, karmically – but if at all possible, leave me vacuum-sealed in my ignorance.
I think I can be more honest that way.